Tag Archives: CVC

Mrs. A describes how she illustated Dad Won’t Let Go of Meg’s Yo-Yo

Illustration used in the book app

Illustration used in the book app

Like the characters in Play, Pop, Play, the characters in our new ebook app, Dad Won’t Let Go of Meg’s Yo-Yo, are based on real people.  As an artist, I find it helps to imagine someone I know when I am drawing.  My brother-in-law, John, is one of the funniest people I have ever met, both in his words, and in his over-the-top gestures!  He is the role model for the father in our story.  His daughter, Meaghan, (Meg) is a sweet, forgiving girl like the birthday girl in our story. Meaghan’s older sister, Rachel, unfortunately for our purposes, has a name that can’t be easily decoded by beginning readers, so we changed Rachel to Jen.  Rachel looks out for her little sister, and sometimes reminds her Dad to settle down if he is getting too enthused. 

An early version of an illustration for Dad Won't Let Go of Meg's Yo-Yo, not used in the book

An early version of an illustration for Dad Won’t Let Go of Meg’s Yo-Yo, not used in the book

My early sketches (I am attaching one here) look so simple compared to the final drawings that comprise the book.  I try to put many details into each page of art, so that a child reading the book has lots to notice and discuss.  Somehow a mischievous cat sneaked into this story too! 

Although there are many yo-yo tricks (around the world, side winder, boomerang, and sleeper), none of these are C-V-C (one-syllable, short-vowel) words. The challenge for us in composing Dad Won’t Let Go of Meg’s Yo-Yo was to find a way to show the tricks yet use simple words.  Instead of around the world, our book says, “spin the yo-yo.”  Instead of side winder, we say “jump the yo-yo.”

Most of us can do the simple up and down motion of a yo-yo unless the string is too long.  And THAT is the premise of our book: Dad delays cutting the string so little Meg can’t play with her yo-yo. Maybe I should call this book a memoir.  It reminds me of being a little girl, and of having a bigger, taller and smarter brother (or so I thought at the time), who was also a master of the yo-yo.  Like the Dad in Dad Won’t Let Go of Meg’s Yo-Yo, my brother would sometimes torment me, showing off his yo-yo prowess, until—SPOILER!  I almost away gave the ending.  You’ll have to read our latest book to find out what happens!

Also, to see some mighty nice yo-yos, go www.yo-yo.com and www.yo-yoplay.com

My child can read basic words. What kind of literature skills should s/he have for kindergarten?

Most states have adopted a common core of standards now used to teach and to assess children’s learning at each grade level and in academic subjects.  Included in these standards are ones for kindergarten reading which include understanding literature, informational texts and reading skills.  Those standards are

kindergarden literature skill standards

Go to http://www.corestandards.org/ELA-Literacy/RL/K for more on the common core of standards.

Key Ideas and Details

  • With prompting and support, the child should be able to ask and answer questions about key details in a text.
  • With prompting and support, the child should be able to retell familiar stories, including key details.
  • With prompting and support, the child should be able to identify characters, settings, and major events in a story.

Craft and Structure

  • The child should be able to ask and answer questions about unknown words in a text
  • The child should be able to recognize common types of texts (e.g., storybooks, poems).
  • The child, with prompting and support, should be able to name the author and illustrator of a story and define the role of each in telling the story.

Integration of Knowledge and Ideas

  • With prompting and support, the child should be able to describe the relationship between illustrations and the story in which they appear (e.g., what moment in a story an illustration depicts).
  • With prompting and support, the child should be able to compare and contrast the adventures and experiences of characters in familiar stories.

Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity

  • The child should actively engage in group reading activities with purpose and understanding.

For more information, go to www.corestandards.org/ELA-Literacy/RL/K

Mrs. K and Mrs A publish another beginning reading book

Mrs. K and Mrs. A have published our third children’s book app in three months!  Play, Pop, Play, our latest book app, resembles our prior book apps, Not a Lot on Top and Look, Babysitter, Look.  All three are written in easy CVC words for beginning English and ESL readers and have hilarious drawings featuring a little kid to attract young readers.

Play, Pop, Play iTunes App

Go to http://goo.gl/JMrT3 for more information.

In Play, Pop, Play, little Tom wants his Pop to play with him—tucked under a table, splashing in a tiny swimming pool, and pumping high on swings.  Pop tires out and wants to nap, but Tom keeps going until—well, you’ll have to read to find out.

Several activity pages follow, all using the simple vocabulary and events of the story.  Unlike paper workbook pages, these app pages are interactive, encouraging the beginning reader to draw lines with electronic crayons, swipe words in a word search, and number the story events in sequence—appropriate reading skills for new readers.  Then—poosh!—the child can erase and start over, or save, or email her work to Grandma.

Play, Pop, Play is available for $1.99 on Apple iPhones, iPads and iPods.  To preview or to buy this book, go to http://goo.gl/JMrT3.

Also, check out Not a Lot on Top at http://goo.gl/ClVyM, and Look Babysitter, Look at http://goo.gl/K1HcU.

Mrs. K and Mrs. K and Mrs. A publish second beginning reader book app: “Look, Babysitter, Look”

Mrs. K and Mrs. A have published our second children’s book app for beginning English readers and beginning ESL readers, Look, Babysitter, Look.

Book app for iPhone and iPad.

Available for iPhone and iPad at http://goo.gl/K1HcU

The story of Look Babysitter Look follows the antics of a little girl who cannot sleep while her clueless babysitter talks on the cell phone.  The pictures are funny, the words are easy and the cost low–$1.99 for the book and activity pages.  The book was designed as a fun method to attract beginning readers using phonics—mostly short-vowel, one-syllable (CVC) words.

Look  babysitter look sample activity page.The activity pages resemble workbook pages except that they are interactive, which delights kids.  A child can write a letter in a blank with an electronic crayon, circle words in a word search, fill in simple crossword puzzle words or draw lines to match drawings that rhyme.  All the activities are appropriate for a beginning reader and pertain to Look, Babysitter, Look’s characters and theme.

Right now Look, Babysitter, Look is available on Apple products through iTunes books but we expect it will be available on android products.  To preview the book, or to buy it, click on http://goo.gl/K1HcU.

Also, check out our first book, Not a Lot on Top, at http://goo.gl/ClVyM.

How can I teach my child vowel sounds?

I have followed a low tech system somewhat similar to teaching consonant sounds, but a system that is a little different too.  This phonetic approach works well with ESL students, young native English speakers getting ready to read and even adults because it makes learning fun.

Looking "over the shoulder" of a young girl sorting pictures of things that have a short A sound when spoken.

To enlarge, click on the picture.

  • I make a set of a dozen or more picture cards for ă:  apple, astronaut, alligator and ax (which begin with ă sound), and other CVC words using ă such as hat, man, dad and bag.
  • I also make one card with ă written on it.
  • At the same time, I make picture (flash) cards with pictures for the other short vowels, and I take some of those cards and temporarily add them to the ă deck.
  • Knowing that discerning vowel sounds is hard, I put the apple card next to the ă card and say the word apple many times, focusing on the vowel sound.  Slowly I help the child say the words in the deck of cards and place the cards near the ă card or in a discard area.
  • When the ă sound is learned (usually this takes several sessions), I take ĕ, ĭ, ŏ and ŭ words, and one short vowel at a time, go through the process with each sound.  Because ĕ and ĭ are hard to distinguish, I do them after ă, ŏ and ŭ, and spend more time on them.
  • Then I start mixing up two of the sounds, such as ă and ŏ.  I put both the ă and ŏ cards on the table, and take the picture cards for only those two sounds, shuffle them, and go through them with the child.  Once the child can distinguish those sounds, I gradually add ŭ to the mix and have the child sort ă, ŏ and ŭ.
  • I leave ĕ and ĭ to last and do those two letters together before I include them with the other short vowel sounds.  It takes many weeks of practice to distinguish ĕ and ĭ sounds.  When the child has mastered them, I add the other three vowels to the deck and the child sorts all five short vowel sounds.
  • When the child has mastered all five short vowel sounds, I go through the same process with ā, ē, ī, ō and ū.  The process for the long vowels goes quicker than for the short vowels.
  • As I move on teaching the child other sounds, I review the vowel sounds if I notice the child is forgetting some of the sounds or mixing up any of them.  This happens with every child I have taught.

Preschoolers and primary school children like this method of learning because they are learning through a game.  They like the control they have—holding the cards and placing them.  They like working one on one with an adult tutor who is paying special attention to them.  Sometimes I do one card and the child does one card to emphasize the fun of learning.  No worksheets, no writing—just fun.  Yet children learn their letter sounds.

Should I give my beginning reader spelling tests?

Little children love to show that they are growing up.  If they have older siblings, they have probably watched them write their spelling words and have heard you pretest them on those words.  Since the whole idea of testing is new and “grown-up,” of course they want to be part of it.

Young child writing C-A-T.

Click on the picture to enlarge it.

Rudolph Flesch, the proponent of teaching a phonics-based reading system in the mid-20th century, advocated teaching spelling at the same time as reading.  His position was, if the child can read a word, he can spell it.

But how to test?  Here is one way to make spelling tests games.

  • Cut out little pictures of words to be tested—cat, hat, bat—and paste them on a sheet of paper with a number next to each picture.  Five to ten pictures per page is plenty.  Then have the child spell the word orally to you, or if the child can write her letters, have the child write the answers on a separate piece of paper.
  • Start by using all rhyming words—bat, cat, fat, hat, mat, pat, rat, sat; can, fan, man, pan, ran, tan, van; big, dig, pig, wig, for example.  Then, when you are sure the child had mastered the rhyming words, mix up words of the same vowel sound.  If the child is successful, then mix various CVC words on the test.  This method ensures success for the child and gives her confidence before she faces words with varying vowels.
  • If the child is writing the spelling words, you do not need to be nearby—a plus for the child’s independence.
  • Or you can go online to have a similar experience using a computer.
  • At www.mrskilburnkiddos.wordpress.com/reading/CVC-words , you can see photos of another type of spelling test.  A picture of a CVC word is glued on an index card.  Below the picture are three squares where the child can spell the word with letter tiles.  Several index cards are joined together with a ring to form a single test.  You would need to use this idea as a pattern to create the test yourself.

What does CVC mean?

If you do much reading about how to teach early readers, you will come across CVC.  It means consonant-vowel-consonant, and refers to one syllable, short vowel words beginning with a consonant, followed by a short vowel and ending with a consonant. Cat, pen, pig, dot and bug are examples.

CVC means consonant-vowel-consonant, and refers to one syllable, short vowel words beginning with a consonant.

Click on the picture to enlarge it.

CVC words are usually the first words children learn once they know their consonant sounds and short vowel sounds.  In CVC words, all the letters are pronounced, and they are pronounced the way children expect.  So for example, the word “gas” would be included as a CVC word, but the word “was” would not be included since the “s” sounds like a “z.”

Almost all English reading systems based on a phonetic approach begin by using CVC words.  Children usually learn short vowel words first because what you see is what you get—no silent letters (late, heat), no digraphs that turn letter sounds into other letter sounds (chat, the), and no use of letters that have secondary pronunciations (has, sew).

Although many words in English do not follow rules of phonics, most of them do.  So teaching children patterns that work most of the time offers them confidence to figure out words that are new to them.

However, most reading books meant for beginning readers do not limit themselves to CVC words.  Writing a meaningful story using only CVC words is hard.  Even Dr. Seuss in The Cat in the Hat used words that do not follow CVC rules. (“The sun did not shine.  It was too wet to play.”)

If your child is ready to read CVC words, you could point to CVC words for the child to read in books, and you could read the other words.  If you own the book and don’t mind marking it, you could underline the words the child should know and take turns reading words in sentences.  Goodwill is an inexpensive source for such books.